Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snow Day: a collective list

I asked friends to let me know what they were doing on this snowy day (or what they've done on other snow days) and here is what they shared:

sled right past the "no sledding" sign

make a snow man on a picnic table

bend my knees and skate down a hill in my sneakers 

have an icicle sword fight

standing outside this morning admiring the crystalline snow, when five bluebirds appear — an unexpected addition to a snowy day

at the opera at Regal Cinema — Falstaff —pretending I am at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC

make a minestrone soup in the crock-pot and serve it with freshly grated cheese

search online for tickets to the Caribbean and then think better of it

shovel and then shovel some more

cancel nonessential plans

make yogurt pancakes and top them with pecans

clean the bird cages — sometimes I forget to do this on non-snow days so I always do it when it is snowing

shovel the first round and look — really look — at the undisturbed whiteness; absorb the silence 

crochet, sew, do some fun artwork, and make time and space for creative thinking 

spend the afternoon reading old New Yorker magazine articles (2006!) — one about Sam Shepard's playwriting career, and one about the impact of psychopharmaceuticals on the mental health of our culture

install a second shower head, for double showering on cold mornings

pet the cats, pet the dog, feed the birds

sit and stare out the window; wish upon a snowflake; imagine I am a snow queen 

soak my feet

make a list of things to be grateful for today

read some of Paradise Lost

make a smoothie for me and my family

start reading Lauren Bacall's autobiography, By Myself

listen to Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run — my latest obsession —over and over

avoid anything to do with work

bake Grandma Ruth's sugar cookies with pink icing

eat crab corn chowder soup with Ritz crackers

wrap holiday gifts in front of my electric "woodstove;" read children's Christmas books in front of the "woodstove;" read Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things, also in front of the "woodstove"

fill the birdfeeder and put out a new cake of suet; bless the black, gray and white of winter birds; watch for scarlet wings against the snow

listen to Carlos Nakai's album, Winter Dreams, snuggled in a quilt that I pieced and my sister quilted

watch the snow fall while dreaming myself back into the wonder of girlhood

light a spruce scented candle.

ignore my to-do list (the one with all the shoulds) — after all, isn't a snow day as much about what you aren't doing as what you are?

listen to the silence, as the noises around me are dampened by the snow

struck by how beautiful a simple, monochromatic landscape can be

read my favorite book, fingering its well-loved pages while listening to the soft crackle of the fire

the warmth of a mug of tea beneath my hands, and simply existing is blissful

goulash; hot chocolate; boots and big socks 

walk the grand-dog; protect the cats

go to the play Black Pearl Sings at the Kitchen Theatre

a cilantro martini at Mia Restaurant on the Commons

take the same picture I take every snowfall:  flowerpots on the deck mounded with snow

watch clumps of snow fall from the tall trees behind my house — hear them plop softly into the snow below

wait impatiently for the plow-guy; feel sad when he comes, slashing a track through the unbroken snow

think about listening to some Christmas music; opt for silence

a pair of Blue Jays at the feeder

edit photographs

hang art on the wall

do laundry

make time to play

pile up the pillows and blankets and hide underneath

a long walk in the snow, then home for tea

imagine places with no snow — how strange to live there

imagine Antarctica and so much snow there, and Emperor penguins

play in the backyard with my dog

stay home and shop on-line (since traveling downtown is not really an option)

keep the radio tuned to NPR all day

a long talk with my sister

remember other snowy days: kissing created heat inside the frigid air

look up, look out, look down — into the light, away from it — from each perspective, the snow seems to fall at a different speed

snow dragon, snow sneaker, snow dancer — so many more possibilities than snowmen 

balance barometric pressure ("stay under the covers!!") with soul pressure ("getting to writing circle will cheer you up!")

take photos of brave and beautiful plants under their snow coats and hats

turn face up to blink and catch flakes on dimples

get whupped by the Los Angeles Times crossword

feel lonesome from the urge to hibernate

send up a wave of thanks for lightbulbs, furnace, earmuffs, Gore-Tex, wool, Vibram soles, and for those who make them usable

sit on the sofa and wrap a blanket around me and the dog, making a nest for two

film my beloved walking the dog over Fall Creek; I even remember to turn on the camera

help make cookies, then help eat them (just to be sure they're okay)

ski down the driveway that curves around the catalpa tree
harvest the kale hidden under the snow
toss some raw peanuts for the chipmunks
get out the Chinese scissors, fold origami paper and cut snowflakes
light candles and read Mary Oliver poetry aloud
take the grandchildren sledding at the Plantations
walk the path along Six Mile Creek and sing Christmas carols off tune (that’s the only way I sing)
watch the snowflakes meandering downward to earth and feel grateful that I don’t live in Southern California
sweep the steps of soft, silent snowflakes
make Constant Comment tea using apple juice and a touch of cinnamon
catch snowflakes with red mittens; giggle when giant snowflakes hit my eye

observe fresh footsteps in powdery snow

skate down sidewalks

big romance and gigantic kisses under snowfall

walk, and walk, and walk, and walk

tell Winter how in love I am with her

bake bread; knit baby items; go skiing

pick up our Bolivian Rotary exchange student

cook dinner for my family

hunker down with a good book for the evening

venture out into the world of holiday shoppers and hope to return home safe and sound without emotional scars

e-mail family and friends about holiday travels and remind 
everyone that I love them

snowshoes or sledding today?

create a blizzard with my snow blower, causing me to become lost in my own driveway.

watch the snow accumulate on my windowsill while my cat sleeps on my lap

break down barriers built by the town’s snowplow

sit in my hot tub as soft flakes drift onto me and the water; leap from the hot tub into 8” of snow; then back into the hot tub 

sip brandy-laced eggnog in front of a roaring fire at the end of the day
shovel and slide; then pack

stand on the front porch in slippers thanking the landlord for shoveling the sidewalk, a pathway to my back door, and even removing the snow from my car

take a walk with my Florida brother who is totally delighted, making snowballs, ready to build a snowman in our back yard — he is a 52 year old man but he's a young boy at heart, filled with wonder today

look at pictures of camels in the snow in Cairo, apparently it's the first time it's snowed there for 112 years (according to a post on Facebook)

cozy dinner indoors with family, shared warmth on all levels

deer on a neighbor's lawn, seen through falling snow, like a Japanese print
make Christmas crafts with my granddaughter

watch It's a Wonderful Life while eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate

warm tea, dark chocolate, red wine, buttered toast

sitting with a lap cat in my lap

cross country skiing

write a card or three; scroll on the computer; recycle old papers; play Boggle or Bananagrams

gaze out the window; daydream; reflect on yesterday; nap

put on my snow boots; take off my snow boots

listen to music: Fairport Convention, Samite, Donna the Buffalo, Sim Redmond Band



play dolls with  my daughter

arrange a play date

dress more colorfully than I ordinarily would, in shades of green, purple, orange, blue, red, with a splash of pink dots as well

worry about things, especially snowy things, and then stop worrying

wait, more impatiently than usual, for the mail to be delivered 

start reading a new collection of haiku, written by a friend, that arrived in the mail today 

Thank you to all these contributors:

Anne Klingensmith
Annie Wexler
Barbara Force
Barbara Kane Lewis
Bue Waters
Jackson Petsche
Janet Klock
Judith Sornberger
Karina Burbank
Kathleen Morrow
Kathy Hopkins
Kathy Kramer
Kitty Gifford
Laura LaRosa
Linda Pope
Maude Rith
Mihal Ronen
Nancy Gabriel
Nancy Koschmann
Nicole Ja
Noemi Kraut
Peggy Haine
Randi Prieve
Raymond Edwin 
Saskya van Nouhuys
Sharon K. Yntema
Sue Norvell
Susan Neuenschwander
Tom Clausen
Wendy Gutman
Zee Zahava

Friday, November 1, 2013

I Like / I Don't Like: a collective list

I like my life
I like that when I look at my wrinkles I think of my mother
I like the sounds of tap dancing and rain
I like voices in the morning, when they are deep and sleepy
I like to have string cheese and dried, tart cherries always in the house
I like it on days when I get almost as much mail as dear occupant 
I like asking, but I also really like being asked
I like parades, road trips and diners
I like naming things — I once owned a shed named Trixie
I like knowing the difference between "present" and "accounted for"
I like to write in little unlined notebooks using mechanical pencils with HB lead
I like that my 10-year-old nephew Joey's favorite movie is a documentary about Coco Chanel
I like containers and thinking about storage
I like to carry my worry stone in my front right pocket
I like to listen to Bach's Goldberg Variations first thing in the morning when my day is still slow and I can drink tea with Glenn Gould

I don't like narcissists

I don't like the way my back aches in the morning

I don't like when one of my socks gets eaten by the demon in the dryer

I like a crisp winter afternoon when the sun is low in the sky and the clouds look like layers of soft pillows

I don't like cats using my veggie garden as a litter box

I don't like being so far away from family

I like peanut butter and avocado sandwiches

I like — actually I worship — the writers Margaret Atwood and the late Adrienne Rich

I don't like pink or floral prints

I like taking long hot baths and then getting right into bed

I like sudoku puzzles but they have to be really, really hard

I don't like being stuck somewhere I don't want to be

I don't like people who refuse to uphold their end of the conversation 

I like having a neat, clean, organized house as much as I like reserving the right to be messy here and there and wherever, and whenever, I choose

I like using a fountain pen

I like to see the blooms on an orchid unfold

I like to read a book under a cozy quilt 

I like to look at the sky, especially the autumn sky, full of sun and clouds and shades of blue not seen any other time of the year 

I don't like being called madam

I like walking along the beach, feeling the ocean water tumble over my feet, feeling the warm sun on my body, or just sitting on the sand savoring sweet watermelon

I don't like playing Monopoly

I like eating whole pans of Rice Krispie Treats

I like boys in old fashioned hats, dressing up in costumes, going for walks alone, and kisses on my cheeks

I don't like touching ice cubes

I like the sound of the wind

I don't like being afraid that the tree out front is going to fall into my apartment

I like planting tulip bulbs and imagining the colors and fragrance that will arrive in the spring

I like the tiny downy woodpecker hammering just feet from where I’m weeding

I like feeling good and strong after exercise class

I like to hear the harmonies when six of us sing together

I like green hills, butterflies, children's giggles and the warmth from a wood stove

I don't like cancer

I like the last day of school for the school year (I am a teacher)

I like when both of my daughters visit me and my apartment feels so alive

I don't like my hair while it is growing out

I don't like the way the weather affects me

I don't like huge textbooks 

I like big, open ballrooms

I like sleeping outside 

I like the way what I like changes

I like working on a math problem, so long as I’m getting some indication that I’ll lick it eventually

I like getting a bargain, especially on something small but annoyingly expensive

I like having my 24-pound cat fall asleep on my belly and now I’m stuck for at least an hour in this position, might as well take a nap

I like reading a book that makes reference to several great books that I can look up now

I like when people laugh at themselves

I like when people in a restaurant know me and are happy to see me when I come in to eat (like the waitress)

I like talking to someone who has had the same exact frustration I've had, especially if no one else has sufficiently commiserated

I like yoga, deep breathing, standing on my head, and the exhilaration of handstands
I like my daughter’s laugh and I like her artwork too
I like imagining anything I want to happen and then making it happen
I like being alone, free to do what I want, when I want 
I like green chile and beans with sapodillas
I like a mug of strong hot working class tea and biscuits
I like the kids who work in the head-shop on the Commons that plays the Grateful Dead music, and I like that they don’t treat me like a weirdo because I’m not there to buy a bong
I like Ithaca more now than I did 20 years ago
I like memoirs, mysteries, thrillers, travel writing, nature writing, essays, poetry — I like book sales
I like going to the movies by myself and I like that I say “the movies” and not “the cinema”
I like riding on the bus when I am one of the only passengers, which is not nearly often enough
I like the idea that I can collect social security, starting this spring
I like who I am, who I have become
I like that I am a “Native New Yorker,” like the song says
I don’t like people who tell me, within the first minute of meeting them, that they are spiritual

I don’t like it when, in the midst of an unpleasant discussion, someone flashes me a big smile

I like that my Pilates teacher adapts her teaching style to my non-linear-ness

I like to eat toasted rice bread with garlic olive oil and goat cheese, every night

I like going away and coming home

I like fireflies, fireplaces, fire pits, fire roasted tomatoes, and fired up fillies; baskets, beadwork, birch bark, feathers, and fry bread

I like waterfalls, watermelon, wading birds, weather vanes, words, wise women, and wizardry

I like ragtime, blues, the violin, Muddy Waters , Stefan Grapelli, and Franz Liszt

I don't like ticks and stings or mold, mildew, mites, or pollen

I like Mondays — a day when I get back to my regular routine after an ambiguous weekend
I don’t like it too cold or too hot, but just right, the way Goldilocks liked her porridge
I like living in the country, but I don’t like septic systems and wells
I like pistachio nuts and walnuts and pine nuts and filberts — I just like nuts
I like to be on time, so I’m always early, and when I try to be late, I get there on time, so I wait for other people a lot
I like watching violent weather, but not being in it
I like being a fervently sophomoric and immature person, as well as a senior citizen

I don't like dark, dreary days but even then I am grateful to be alive

I like watching Chasing Classic Cars on the Velocity Channel, reading autobiographies, drinking Earl Grey tea, and talking on the phone to my sisters
I like Hawaiian pizza and Southern Comfort Old Fashions
I like watching the birds at our bird feeder
I don’t like hitting a slice off the tee, wet socks, and parents yelling at their children in public places
I like the rhyme of thesaurus with dinosaurous

I like drinking those little coffee creamers like shots when no one is looking

I don't like certain musical notes, especially those hit in guttural singing by Gyuto Monks

I like warm pudding in a pottery bowl

I don't like walking into a room where small talk is required, unless there are snacks

I like making faces at babies in the grocery store line until they giggle

I like creating with others — the playful silence of busy hands and muse-infused minds 

I like every animal that slithers, crawls, hops, swims and flies (and even those that just sit!)

I don't like hot air balloons in June, any other month might be okay

I like the soft sound of a snoring cat, like 'snurup, snurp" (while I type)

I like stacking wood — the satisfying triptych that includes: physical activity; the puzzle of fitting the right wedge into the right groove; and the handsome product, a roughly organized mound of repeating shapes

I don't like jarred garlic 

I don't like yoga rooms with mirrors in them

I like dots on just about anything  

I like anything cooked in duck fat

I like ice cream, but only once a year

I like to dawdle

I like to dance in my kitchen with the lights off and the volume of the music turned all the way up 

I like old photos, torn and dark around the edges

I like crystal dishes filled with candy

I like flowers of every color, but especially violets, lilacs, lilies of the valley, and pansies

I don't like to be interrupted when I am talking

I like being distracted by a moth, a falling leaf, a busy squirrel, or the bark of a distant dog
I don’t like being misunderstood
I don’t like deceptive people but I like catching them in their deceit
I like clean windows, the sparkle of clean glasses in my cupboard, the porch light shining in the dark

I like making up rhymes and playing word games
I like maps

I like sitting and watching November roses bob in the afternoon breeze

I like Brussels sprouts, old-time traditional music, and reading historical mysteries  

I like sitting silently with friends, following my breathing

I don't like radishes, stepping in bear scat, or being left out of the loop

I don't like eating standing up, bowl in one hand, fork in the other, thoughts flying around my head

I don't like deadlines, rules that say no pets allowed, or missing your phone calls

I like when a stranger walks by singing the song that's already in my head

I like even numbers, unbirthday parties, and holding hands as we walk

I like thinking my younger self would admire me

I like being described as "having character"

I like laughing so hard I cry

I like alive things in the face of winter

I don’t like people thinking I’m stupid because they can’t understand my thinking

I like building and watching huge bonfires on a late August evening

I like knowing all that I know

I don’t like not having won the multimillion dollar lottery (so far)

I don’t like scare tactics

I like taking time to sit and think about where I am and where I will be next

I don't like the smell of Yankee Candle's new bacon scented candle

I don't like having to spend money on new tires, underpants, or toilet paper
I don't like the cat's tone of voice when she's demanding dinner
I like emerald moss on dark brown logs, especially when all else seems barren

I like the subtle, bronzed, leathery tan of oak leaves
I like having lots of blueberries in the freezer — for eating and for remembering summer
I like the smell of chocolate cake, cooling on a rack on the counter
I like "forever" stamps
I like a surprise visit from someone I love

I like to keep things simple

I like being included and being "in the know"

I like spontaneous outings

I like the quiet just after my kids fall asleep

I like drinking from the carton when no one is looking

I don't like ending a hot shower

I don't like emptying the compost

I don't like anguish

I like having a book on deck for after I finish the one I'm reading now

I don't like commitments, appointments, or waiting rooms

I like watching the leaves dance down the street, choreographed by the wind

I like it when people agree with me

I don't like plastic cutlery, clowns, hydrangeas, coupons, parallel parking, the birthday song, or vacuuming

I don't like the sound of bagpipes or the smell of burnt toast

I don't like the name "Debbie"

I like chopsticks, roller coasters, catalpa trees, cocktails, Brie, and home renovation TV shows

I like the word "lachrymose"

I like sitting up to my neck in hot water

I like the way we met, all those many years ago

I don't like waiting for clothes at the laundromat and no amount of mystery reading, Sudoku puzzles, or junk food will ever make it okay

I like the way the sun is shining in through the sliding glass doors to be caught in the odd mosaic globe I bought in a coffee shop and now the ceiling and walls are sprinkled with dozens of sunlight polka dots

I like to open my desk calendar and find that today nothing is scheduled for maintenance — not the car, or the furnace, or the vegetable garden, or the fence, or me — but I do recognize there comes a point when it is all about maintenance

I like 6:30 in the evening when the oven is almost ready to receive the scrubbed potatoes and the salad greens are rinsed and I am trimming beans while you are peeling the garlic and we talk about nothing much and everything all at once

I like having something to look forward to, packing for a trip, the getting ready for sleep routine, and keeping my watch set on military time

I like that I don't stay mad for too long — usually 

I like my massage therapist — a lot 

I like imagining my bones

I like remembering the clothes I wore in the past

I like distant views, wading in water, being baffled by time zones, and slowing down

I like my big red couch, d’Anjou pears, hand knit wool socks, buckeyes, the Cornell skyline, pickled beets

I like being surprised by a red leaf

I like making vegetable beef soup that tastes just like my mother’s

I like saying hi to the Johnson Museum’s huge wooden statue of Kwan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion

I like daydreaming, crickets in the corners, Thai restaurant menus, the way Fontina cheese melts, and Broadway show tunes

I like tiny statues of animals, the symmetry of succulent plants, looking in dollhouse windows, and fifty-year friendships 

I don't like it that when I see a man barely able to walk down the street because his pants are buckled around the middle of his thighs, the only thing I hope for is to see him step on his own cuff and lose his pants completely

I don't like it when I take a sip of coffee before remembering that I just rinsed my mouth out with Listerine

I don't like it when overanxious opera buffs spoil the end of a beautiful aria by shouting "Bravo" before the last note has had a chance to resound through the air and settle completely in the hearts of the audience

I like the inside curve of a freshly broken eggshell

I like the way a cat can be asleep but still talk to you by idly waving the tip of its tail in the air

I like being newly retired and often having no idea what day of the week it is

I like taking the time to help a ladybug find a bit of greenery to sit on instead of facing certain crushing death any second on the ground in front of  Wegmans' busy front doors

I don’t like thinking about what I don’t like 
I like to write, read, find and collect lists

Thank you to all these contributors:
Amy E. Bartell
Annie Wexler
Antonia Matthew
Barbara Cartwright
Barbara Kane Lewis 
Barbara West
Bill Holcombe
Blue Waters
Cady Fontana
Carol Bossard
Chaya Spector
Diana Kreutzer
John Peiffer
Julia Rosoff
June Wolfman
Kathleen Thompson
Kelly Morris
Laura LaRosa
Laura Levinson
Lillian Tuskey
Lynn Johnson
Lynne Taetzsch
M Richard Leopold
Melissa Hamilton
Melissa Zarem
Meryl Young
Pamela Goddard
Patty Little
Peggy Adams
Pilar Greenwood
Quina Weber-Shirk
Raymond Edwin
Stephanie Mulinos
Sue Norvell
Summer Killian
Susan English
Susan Lesser
Wendy Gutman
Zee Zahava